Not for prostitution to Nigeria, Immigration officers tell Rwandan girls
By Jude Idada in Kigali
They stop them from traveling to Nigeria. These Rwandese girls, young, ravishingly beautiful and innocent looking. Hordes of them staring wide eyed at the airport.
As the immigration officers turn them back at the lounge where I sat after seeing them, one of my fellow travellers: a Rwandese middle aged male, himsef headed to Lagos, said with a grin as I discussed it with him.
“… you know yourselves. They are just protecting the girls from being introduced to high class prostitution.
“Rich Nigerians come here, meet these girls, go back home, call them and tell them to get their female friends who are interested in coming to Nigeria. Then they send them tickets.
“When they arrive in Nigeria, they take them to parties, have sex with them and even get their friends to have sex with them. At the end of their week or less stay, they give each one at least USD2,500 and send them back. That is 2.2million Rwandan Francs.
“For you to understand how much that money is in Rwanda, you have to think in this manner; a cleaner earns around 20, 000 Rwandan francs a month if working in a residence and 50, 000 Rwandan Francs a month if in a commercial office. A cook earns a little above 50, 000 Rwandan Francs a month, a security guard around 50, 000 Rwandan francs. An entry level university graduate at a bank or even telecoms like MTN earns between 300,000 to 600,000 Rwandan francs a month depending on their department and there you have these young girls earning 2.2 million Rwandan Francs for a weeks work that is packaged as fun,” he said.
He stared at me intently as he waited for it to sink in, then he continued.
“Do you think these girls can ever aspire to get a normal job again? No. They get sucked into prostitution. Get more of their girlfriends to go to Nigeria and get their cut from these girls.
“They even arrange for some to service the throngs of Nigerian men who come for weekends here in Kigali. It has become a thriving trade.
“And our President had said that in as much as we want our economy to grow and Rwandans to get better high paying jobs, there are certain industries we do not want to thrive in our country. The first of which is the sex industry.
“Yes! We know our women are legendary for their sexual prowess but it is a cultural strength not a skill to earn money. We are not a sex destination. We want tourism not sex tourism. We do not want our young women to be lured into sex trafficking instead of going to school, earnng quality education and getting good dignifiable jobs.”
Then he leaned forward. Serious words measured.
“Do you know that in Rwanda about 60% of our legislators are women? Over 45% of our cabinet ministers are women. In all industries, we have women in high executive positions.
“In fact, during the war to end genocide, women fought side by side with the men in the Rwandan Patroitic Army led by our President Paul Kagame. How do you think we are going to sit back and allow your country men come here and corrupt our women?”
He kept silent as though waiting for an answer and then he continued.
“Nigeria does a lot of great things for our country. They send us lecturers and doctors and nurses, who the Nigerian government pays their salaries. We sincerely appreciate it.
“Look at me, I go to Nigeria to do good business and I am warmly welcome there. My President celebrates and encourages this actions of Pan Africanism and cooperation but there has to be protections put in place to stop the bad eggs in both of our countries from infecting the rest.”
Then he began whispering as though sharing a secret.
“Look! In our jails now, we have Nigerians here for internet fraud and drug smuggling. It is not that we hate Nigerians but they have to understand that this is a country of laws and a strong judiciary and police.
“Zero tolerance for any form of corruption. We allow you in relatively stress free. You get your visa at the airport when you arrive. We give you resident permit in tops a week if you show us an empoyment letter or an investment in the country but if you dare break our laws or introduce any bad behaviour you did in your country here, we deal with you no matter who you are or what your country is doing for us. It is as simple as that. Here no one is above the law. You break it, you pay.”
Then his voice rose back to normal.
“So yes, those girls will not touch the soil of Nigeria if they cannot prove the legitimacy of what they are going for, show us how they earned the money to fund their trip, who is inviting them to Nigeria, their relationship with the person and if they are in school or under 18, they provide evidence that their parents or sponsor or guardian are aware of their trip.”
Then he laughed.
“We have to be tough on ourselves because we do not want to become like Nigeria where your passport and your citizens are disrespected all over the world, because your country folded its arms while corruption spread to every nook and corner and allowed the actions of the worst of your citizens define, to the whole world, the character best of your citizens.”